If the details of your life are so consistently exciting that your peers can’t keep up, the obvious solution is a newsletter. At least, that seems to be the thinking behind WhatsApp‘s latest feature-in-testing. The feature, if it eventually makes it to everyone, might not be known under that label, however.
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In terms of function, though, it’s almost identical. WABetaInfo, those folks who spend all day deconstructing WhatsApp, uncovered the new feature in the most recent Android beta version of the app (126.96.36.199). Don’t bother, the beta program is completely full.
What it entails is sending information from a single source (‘you’, for example) to multiple sources (‘everyone you know’). Now you can get that in certain groups where only admins are permitted to post but this seems to be a different thing. It’s designed as an opt-in system and would see users receiving updates from groups or entities via WhatsApp. Think signing up to a sports team’s updates or a specific hobbyist group for event and other updates.
One thing to bear in mind is that, as designed, these broadcasts won’t be protected by end-to-end encryption. Newsletters are public information by definition so building the functionality in doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It does appear that user phone numbers will remain masked, so that info will remain protected (unless the cops ask for it for very specific reasons).
Ads and algorithms don’t seem to be planned. Subscribing to one seems to be wholly optional. We do expect WhatsApp to eventually try and inject advertising. Because money. For now, though, it’s a safe space.
The ‘Newsletter’ designation seems to be a codeword for the present. Odds are that Meta will choose something a little sexier prior to launch. Or perhaps the company will stick with the simple and descriptive. It’s still very early days, however, so anything could change in the next few months.